Published: 24/04/2003, Volume II3, No. 5825 Page 8

Monitoring of client protection policies at Bedfordshire and Luton Community trust was so poor that it made it difficult to say whether people with learning disabilities were being abused by staff, a report by the Commission for Health Improvement said last week. But the report found no evidence to support allegations of abuse.

The commission was called in after four trust investigations and one independent inquiry into a series of incidents, including the deaths of two people in trust units and allegations of staff abusing clients.

Since the investigation the trust has reviewed its clinical governance, is considering implementing a new human resources strategy and has agreed a new system for risk management. It is also working with the Modernisation Agency to change the culture of the organisation.

CHI's first report in the learning difficulties field outlines continuing concerns; poor record keeping; inadequate risk assessments and management; inadequate audit systems; high use of bank and agency staff along with high vacancy levels and unmet training needs for staff. It says some staff were working 80-90 hours a week.

The trust's chief executive, Paul Mullin, said since the investigation, the trust had increased its budget for staffing in learning disability services by£700,000.

'We have introduced training for care support workers taking them through to NVQ level 2 in 18 months. Record keeping will feature in our annual audit programme and we are dealing with leadership issues at board level.'